William Hill Howcott (1847-1927)


William Hill Howcott was born on 1 July 1847 in Mississippi - probably at or near Canton, which is the main town in Madison county. He was the fourth of the five known children of Judge John B Howcott and his wife Elizabeth W (formerly Jones).

He served in Captain Addison Harvey’s Scouts during the Civil War. Most of the members of this Confederate unit were recruited from Madison county. Union forces destroyed the Howcott home at Canton during the War, resulting in Elizabeth Howcott sharing her slaves' quarters.

In the 1890s, William Hill paid for a 20-foot high granite obelisk, which has in recent years been moved to s site in the burial ground between East Academy Street and the Old Madison County Jail in East Fulton Street. The monument commemorates his body servant Willis Howcott, who was of a similar age and accompanied him to war, where Willis lost his life in combat. Its inscription includes these words:  

“A tribute to my faithful servant and friend, Willis Howcott, a colored boy of rare loyalty and faithfulness, whose memory I cherish with deep gratitude”.  

W H Howcott, a clerk, is recorded at 186 Common in Gardner’s Directory of New Orleans, 1869. He was later involved in the cotton business and went on to become highly successful in dealing in real estate in Louisiana.


He married Mary Edith, daughter of John and Harriet Louise Watt, at New Orleans on 14 December 1875 – the picture to the left is her wedding portrait. As well as two children whose names have not been found, their offspring were:


·       Harley Alexander Watt (1878-1930)

·       Louise (1879-1890)

·       Edith Elizabeth Mary Delgado (1882-1965)

·       William Hill (1891-1907)

·       Gladys (1891-1976)

·       Constance (1893-1895)

Mary Edith Watt Howcott died 14 May 1893 at the old John Watt residence, Carondelet Street. This was less than one month after she gave birth to her youngest child. 


William Hill Howcott (2nd from right) at Harvey's Scouts reunion - New Orleans, 25 April 1906

Monument to Willis Howcott at Canton, Mississippi

The parish house of Trinity Episcopal Church, New Orleans was sponsored by William Hill Howcott in memory of his son of the same name, who had died of Wrights Disease. The building includes a chapel on the ground floor and further accommodation on the upper floor. A portrait of William Hill Howcott junior hangs on one of the walls.

In 1917, he also provided a stained glass window at Grace Episcopal Church, Canton, in memory of his mother Elizabeth W Howcott.

Grace church, Canton

Elizabeth W Howcott window


William Hill Howcott died at New Orleans on 12 December 1927 and, like his wife, was buried in the John Watt family tomb at Metairie Cemetery.  




The following pictures are included by kind permission of those who supplied me with them:

  • Harvey Scouts reunion - Patrick M Harrison
  • William Hill Howcott - Peter Monrose
  • Mary Edith Watt Howcott - Elizabeth Monrose Lacouture